Are short trips really that bad for your car?

It’s pretty much widely accepted that short trips (any distance your car drives that the engine doesn’t reach full operating temperature) are not ideal for your car. Obviously if your engine never reaches full operating temperature then it will likely decrease it’s lifespan.

However I was wondering, would making 20 shorter trips per week (where the engine is started cold and then partially heats up but not all the way and then is shut off before it can fully warm up, then cooled down and repeat) still be bad if the car was taken on one long highway drive (30+ miles on the highway at 60-70 mph) once per week or once every couple weeks?

In other words are shorter drives only bad for your car if thats all you ever do (never doing trips long enough to let the engine warm up fully and stay there) and the negative effects are canceled out as long as you let the engine reach operating temperature once every week or two and stay there for a while? Or are they still bad for your engine regardless?

The short trips build up corrosive products in the engjne that cause damage. The longer it sits in there, the more damage it does. That defines your answer.

Those 20 short trips are very hard on your engine, battery, everything in the car. It will shorten the life.

A long trip per week or every 2 weeks doesn’t eliminate the effects but it sure helps. It is still severe duty and maintenance should reflect that. Frequent changes of every fluid in the car will help extend the life.


Please do not let Robert Gift see this thread.


It’s sort of like asking your physician if you exercise at the gym once a week, will that make up for eating fast food every day? No, it doesn’t entirely compensate for the adverse effects of the fast food, but the once a week exercise does help.

If you have to do a lot of short trips just b/c that’s the way you use your car, well, its your car and you can use it however you like. If you can work in a few long drives once in a while, all the better. If you have to do a lot of short trips, it makes sense to proactively monitor the integrity of the exhaust system and occasionally remove the valve covers and take a look-see at the camshaft area for any developing problems.


You really need to get out more George and look under the hood of a modern car.

2016 Malibu, Do you see any valve covers ?


The car in question is an 05 civic ex. I already own a mustang but want something more fuel efficient for commuting. It has only 63k which is very low for the year and he only wants $2800 so I don’t want to pass it up but the previous owner was truthful with me and told me he used it for door dash but drove it occasionally on the highway for the past 2 years. I test drove it and everything seems fine but I am just trying to get a picture of how detrimental a bunch of short trips really are if some highway driving was also done

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lol . … I think the OP’s shop could find them.

They’re probably under all that plastic covering

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Repairpal’s estimate for valve cover gasket replacement in my area is $940
96% of that is labor for a 2016 Malibu.

So how occasionally should he do that ?

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OP says their car is a Honda Civic. Malibu versions is complex job b/c of the turbo design presumably.

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For crying out loud , just buy the silly car. 2800.00 for something that runs , stops and looks halfway decent is a bargain these days .


for the year, mileage and price it sounds like a steal on the current market!

getting car inspected by mechanic you pay $100+ is a usual advice on this site.

myself, for the price in question, I would look under the oil filler cap to check if no outrageously strong deposits are present, checked if the front was not in major collision and wrote a check on the spot

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In the old days there was so much fuel going into the engine that it could really thin out the oil. A cold engine isn’t as bad these days, Synthetic oil as well as regular oil is much better stuff too. I don’t see any bad short trip effects coming your way. 1965 was good in some ways but I’m happy to be in 2005, even now.

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If you do predominately short trips, you really should consider an electric car.


You aren’t going to find an electric car for $2800. Unless it’s an old golf cart.


I say get the car and don’t worry about it, assuming it checks out otherwise.

Improvements over the last couple decades have reduced the ill effects of short trips. Federal emissions rules mean that engines burn fuel more efficiently and leave less fuel to wash oil off the cylinder walls, and exhaust systems are far more rust resistant. Motor oils are better than they were, too.

The most expensive vulnerable component for short-trip stop-and-go driving is the transmission (or clutch in a car with a manual tranny.) Some are better than others. Some Nissans and small Fords had trouble-prone trannies. Hondas have a good reputation for the most part but I don’t know about that generation of Civic transmissions.


Yikes! I wouldn’t do this, just change the oil.

For what it’s worth… if you’re only buying this Civic to save money on gas, you might want to do a little math.

Compare the cost of keeping your current vehicle and the fuel it usually uses, vs. the cost of keeping that one, buying the new one, and insuring 2 cars. I’d bet you a dozen donuts it would be cheaper to just keep driving your Mustang.

When gas gets high, a lot of people confuse saving money on gas with actually saving money overall. It doesn’t make any sense to buy another car to only save on gas.

But I could be wrong. Good luck.


Just set him to be “ignored” if he really riles you.